90125 (1983)

1. Owner of a Lonely Heart 2. Hold On 3. It Can Happen 4. Changes 5. Cinema 6. Leave It 7. Our Song 8. City of Love 9. Hearts


This one wasn’t even supposed to be a ‘Yes’ album. A little bit of background: The band dissolves after the Drama experiment fails to set the world on fire. Geoff Downes and Steve Howe join the super group Asia. The rhythm section of Chris Squire and Alan White team up with former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye and a relatively unheard of guitar player named Trevor Rabin to form a group called ‘Cinema’. One thing leads to another, and original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson is now recruited to this new project to add lead vocals and become the group’s front man. Someone wisely decided that since 4 out of the 5 members of this group are former ‘Yes’ members, why not change the name of the group to ‘Yes’? Oh, and the lead singer from last year’s Drama, Trevor Horn, is actually behind the controls, producing this record. Did you get all that?

Since this project began with the intention of it not being a ‘Yes’ record is probably the main reason why the thing doesn’t sound anything like the ‘Classic’ Yes from about 1971-1973. What surprised everyone, however, is that this thing ended up being a terrific record. Whatever new formula they used allowed the band a fame that they had never known before. Now, this isn’t to say that everyone was pleased with this new direction. A lot had changed, though, in terms of people’s taste from 1973 to 1983. Whereas the old fans probably couldn’t stomach this new sound, I imagine a plethora of the new fans wouldn’t be able to stand something like Tales From Topographic Oceans (I don’t see how anyone can stomach Tales From Topographic Oceans, but I digress….).

In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that the biggest influences on this album are the “newest” guys Trevor Horn and Trevor Rabin. I doubt if most people could really tell that members Squire, White, and Kaye are the ones playing on this record unless someone told them. Jon Anderson is another story, though. He is undoubtedly the ‘voice’ of Yes, and will always be. So once we hear Anderson sing, it’s much easier to assimilate this whole thing as a ‘Yes’ project.

Just about everyone in the world has heard Owner of a Lonely Heart. If you like that song, it’s safe to say you’ll like everything else here. Most songs contain the quirky keyboard effects, the heavy Rabin guitar, the enjoyable hooks, and the voice of Jon Anderson throughout. Other standout tracks include Hold On, Changes, Hearts and It Can Happen. I’m a tad surprised that none of these songs burned up the charts as Owner of a Lonely Heart did, as they are all quite strong.

To be fair, there are couple of tracks such as Our Song and City of Love that sound a tad dated – there’s a bit too much 1983 in them, but for the time, such music was stellar. There are a few times when Trevor Rabin handles lead vocals as well. He’s a powerful singer and a great singer, but his voice doesn’t sound that different from most of the other arena rock crooners of the day. The decision to include Jon Anderson as the main singer was probably a smart move. It simply allowed the tracks to stand out a bit better.

Much of my love for this record is not that I necessarily like it better than the classic period, but the fact that they managed to incorporate new members, radically change their approach, and still manage to put something out so appealing. Plus, the fact that this thing was such a blockbuster meant that the band stayed in the public’s eye a little bit longer. Even though the next few records weren’t nearly as successful (now that I think about, nothingthey would ever do was ever as successful), the fact that the band now had a couple of different decades of fans allowed them a bit more exposure than had they called it quits around 1978.

The only negative thing one could say about this record, really, is its title. ‘90125’ was the catalog number of the release. Couldn’t they have come up with something a tad more original?

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